Darkroom on a table
Would appreciate some feedback or suggestions.
I'm putting up a small darkroom in my bedroom. So far I have the enlarger already, and it's a Durst M370 Color. That pretty much limits me to 12x16" prints for 35mm film and should suffice for now. I've made provisions to upgrade to the Meopta 6x7cm range at a later date. I will be printing primarily B&W RC 8x10s.
The problem is that being in my bedroom, I don't have a water supply, nor will I be able to pipe water in.
So what I've thought of doing is using a Nova processing system (build my own perhaps) to get the prints through the darkroom-required part, put the fixed prints in a tray, and bring them to the washroom for a final wash.
I don't have space for 4 9x12" trays, so I figured the Nova system should be best. Will put the tanks into a larger tray to catch any spills.
Chemistry wise, I'm thinking of adopting an acid-free approach in order to conserve water. Developer most likely Neutol Plus, water stop, and TF4 fixer. I live in the tropics, so with air-conditioning, I think I can get temperatures around 22°C to 24°C. Without, I get 28°C or thereabouts.
Drying most likely on a rack in the bathroom. I can't afford one of those Ilford 1250 machines.
Now, I know that two (or more) heads are better than one. I would appreciate it if you could perhaps let me know if there are better ways of doing things, or if you've done a setup like this before, share your experiences.
The setup that you describe should work well enough. Below is a link to an illustration of a portable darkroom, I’m not suggesting that you should buy one, it just illustrates the size required. Shelving to allow you to spread vertically rather than horizontally will help.
The Nova processor will save on both space, and chemicals. A cheaper alternative, and one with a similar footprint, would be to use a Jobo drum on a roller base. Neither route will allow you to get your fingers in the developer, but maybe that’s a good thing if like me, you are sensitive to chemical contact.
I don’t think your lack of darkroom water is anymore than an inconvenience, my first darkroom was waterless. As your prints come out of the fixer, immerse them in a tray of water until you are ready to carry them to the bathroom for washing in a batch. My first darkroom was waterless.
To start with I would recommend you use Resin Coated paper since this will present you with fewer initial problems to surmount. If you want to go straight to fibre paper, then use a double weight grade, it’s easier to handle although you will still have the drying problems to contend with.
I'm planning to build my own version of the Nova processor. I suppose it can't be too hard to cobble (or chloroform, rather) together some acrylic pieces. It shouldn't cost too much either. Has anyone done this before?
I considered using a drum system as well, but I figured that it'd be more expensive as the equipment isn't available locally (i.e. I have to order in from the USA or UK). Unlike the Nova which I think I can build fairly easily.
I just got a few books from the local library on darkroom construction.
In the early 1990s there used to be a interpretation of the Nova mady by Jobo - very cheap, more robust (plastics, you can move it when filled while a Nova will break and you can move the single tanks to wash them or pour them out) and with a clever clip system (the paper rests on a holder and always is pushed down deep in the tank, thus you need to fill it only partial when using smaller formats).
No heater, it is placed in a large tray filled with water that can be used for a quick washing.
Rumour goes they stopped production when Jobo USA started selling the Nova stuff.
Well, I have one, got it for 10EUR and I like it for quick&dirty stuff in my students "emergency" darkroom (in my bathroom, when I don´t have access to my big darkroom). If you can find one - think about it.
I added an image taken from a 1990 magazine reporting about the prototype.
Re the drums - they are dirt cheap in Germany, as are old CPA/CPE/CPE2 processors. I got one, but I don´t like the mess I do with the drums (they need to be absolutely dry!) and only use the processor for E6 today.
The Jobo looks interesting. Do you know what the official name is so that I might poke around and see if there are any out there over here in the US?
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It´s the "Jobo Prima"... I don´t know if it was sold in the USA and production stopped some 10 years ago.
Re drying - I recently changed from drying RCs on a rack to washing them in E6/C41-stabilizer and putting them on the tiles on the bathroom walls - they dry clean and FAST that way.
It is amazing how much one can accomplish with less than the space, say, a professional photographer would typically use. The darkroom I built in my garage measures only 7 feet wide by 5 feet 4 inches deep. It currently contains two old kitchen tables upon which sit everything. The two attached photos taken with my 24mm Leica lens show my old Saunders condensor enlarger (I now have their MXL dichroic enlarger), easel, Gralab timer, Sharper Image air filter, and paper safe (bottom center of first picture) on the left table, and one 11 x 14 inch tray as well as three 8 x 10 inch trays and a halogen light on the table on the right. Above the halogen light on a shelf is my Bose Wave CD player which gives me hours of gorgeous music to accompany many blissful hours of making prints. Though I stand at the enlarger, there is a stool with a comfortable cushion in front of the table containing the trays which I transfer to when printing. Not shown is an air conditioner unit high up on the wall to the left. I left enough room between the front of the tables and the wall across from them to easly turn around and to enable me to replace the existing tables with hand-built tables slightly deeper outwards if I ever decide I want to make 11 x 14 inch prints as well from time to time. My sister plans to create a darkroom in a spare bedroom in her new house, and she will use my darkroom setup as a guide. I never get claustrophobic in this 7 x 5.4 feet darkroom and it is a true delight to operate in it!
Last edited by tbm; 08-21-2007 at 12:55 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I think this is an impressive solution to the compact darkroom issue.
My Verito page
Anyone can appreciate a fine print. But it takes a real photographer to appreciate a fine negative.
I shoot large format, and in a workshop this summer had an opportunity to use a "tray slosher" to develop film. I liked it so much i decided to build my own.
I bought some plexiglass (they call it 1/4'" but it's actually 0.22") at Home Depot. The guy in the orange apron suggested epoxy as the adhesive, but I knew better and went instead to a glass shop where I bought some plexiglass adhesive.
The key to working with plexiglass is to be very precise with the cuts. They must be absolutely square, and if you choose to sand the cut edges, make sure that you don't round them over in the process. When you are edge glueing this material, you want to be able to have one piece rest precisely on the adjoining piece.
Plexiglass adhesive usually comes in a glass bottle, and you have to purchase an applicator that is basically a syringe with a metal tip. Fill the syringe, and with the two pieces resting in the right position, carefully squirt a few drops of the adhesive along the seam between them. The adhesive will be drawn into the joint by capillary action - if you are using the clear version of the pliexiglass, you can actually see it filling the joint. Give it a couple of minutes to dry, and then go back to see if there are any gaps - if so, add a few more drops of the adhesive.
Do your glueing outdoors, and be careful with the adhesive. It evaporates rapidly, so keep the top on the bottle when you aren't actually filling the syringe, but it's not something that you want to breath the fumes from for an extended period.